The Meaning Of Life

You can read all the philosophers you want, but nobody summed up the meaning of life quite as concisely as Berk Breathed once did in Bloom County.  In fact, it was so well done that I cut it out of the newspaper (remember those?) saved it for easy reference, and tried very hard to live by its not-so-subtle advice.

Now, a million years later, my youth a dim memory and my future about to kick in the door, I still marvel at its relevance.

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I’m An Optimist (2018)

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I’m an optimist.  I don’t believe life is “short, brutish and cruel” or whatever the hell Thomas Hobbes was going on about.  First of all, life is not short: it’s the longest thing you’re ever going to do (aside from eternity, and that doesn’t count.)  Secondly, nothing that offers over 20 different kinds of breakfast cereal (from super-nutritious to practically poison) can be called “brutish and cruel.”  Perhaps, at one time, Hobbes was money in the bank, but these days the poor guy isn’t even spare change.

The truth is, the only reason a lot of people think pessimism is such a profound philosophy is most of the great thinkers we hold so dear to our hearts (like Hobbes) wrote it that way.  Unfortunately, they were doing their writing (and their thinking) in a time when scullery maid was a legitimate occupation, a bad cold could kill ya and public executions were entertainment – for the whole family.  Not all that relevant in the 21st century!  And, quite frankly, neither is their dim view of the world.

We live in a world that is full of promise.  Okay, sometimes we get our priorities screwed up and try to feed the homeless, clothe the starving and tolerate the intolerant — but at least we’re workin’ on it.  And the fact is, we do feed a lot of people, we do clothe them, we educate them, offer them medicine, employment and safety.  We allow a cornucopia of gods, politics, ideas and opinions all equal billing in the intellectual feast that is Western society.  We show mercy, generosity and benevolence — even to those who wish to do us harm.  We do not live in a dark world because — quite frankly, folks — when our biggest problem is the Internet is slow, we’ve got nothing to be pessimistic about.

Aristotle Is Dead!

philosophyWe live in interesting times.  Half the people hate what’s going on in the world, half the people fear what’s going on in the world, and half the people haven’t got a clue what’s going on in the world.  And the biggest problem is nobody cares that these figures don’t add up to 100%.  Our standard response to such things is — ” Whatever!”  Two hundred years from now, anthropologists and historians (if there are any left) are going to look at our time with a combination of disbelief and WTF?  The only thing they’ll be able to agree on is that we’ve  abandoned Aristotle for a more Kardashian view of reality.  The fact is, most of the stuff we do here is the early days of the 21st century defies logic.  Here are a few examples.

Extended Warranties — There are two things going on when you buy an extended warranty.  One, you’re betting money that the thing you just purchased turns out to be a piece of junk; and two, if it doesn’t, you’ve just willingly paid for a very expensive handful of air.

Free Stuff — Nope!  Even though, like unicorns, we all know what this looks like, it doesn’t exist.  Everyone forgets that, unless your name is Aladdin, somebody/somewhere has to pay for the stuff  you’re presumably going to get for free — and it’s usually you. (BTW, why did you get singled out to get something for nothing in the first place?  Just because?)

Government Secrets/Conspiracies — Governments do not conduct their secret affairs at facilities that regularly appear on television documentaries.  Nor do they leave massive clues behind for any YouTuber with a pause button to find.  A good rule to remember is if you and all your friends have heard about it — it isn’t a secret.

Lotteries — Math, folks! Do the math!

Denying Climate Change — This is like believing in the existence of God — and Blaise Pascal got it right.  If we believe in Climate Change and it doesn’t exist — nothing happens.  However, if we don’t believe in Climate Change and it does exist — we’re totally screwed.

Corporate Greed — The sole purpose of any corporation is to earn money.  That’s the reason they exist — the only reason.  To get pissed off at corporations that generate profits (“excessive” is a subjective term) is like getting angry at your cat because it’s good at catching mice.

And finally:

Apple Logos — Spending a boatload of money for an item that does the exact same thing as another item — that’s sitting right beside it and costs half as much — defies all logic.  The only explanation is Apple isn’t a business; it’s a cult.